Thursday, March 14, 2019

Age of Conan: Belit #1 - Review by SE

Age Of Conan: Belit, Queen Of The Black Coast (2019) #1 by Tini Howard
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

Age Of Conan: Belit, Queen Of The Black Coast (2019) #1 is the first of the third-2019 Marvel series released in 2019 (the others being "Conan the Barbarian" and "Savage Sword of Conan"). Like the others, it is graced with a serialized novella, this time by Michael A. Stackpole.

"Age of Conan" has a great premise: this series focuses on non-Conan characters, this one from Robert E Howard's story "Queen of the Black Coast"(1934 Weird tales). Unlike the other two Marvel Conan series, the novella and comic are both focused on the same characters and time. The cover is gorgeous. Belit is obviously the focus, and the series promises to track her adventures from being a young girl, a daughter of a pirate king, onward.

The Cover and Stackpole's story "Bone Whispers" are worth the cover price. N'Yaga, a shaman of sorts, meets up with Belit. As an introductory three pages, it works splendid. It fills in the backstory, develops characters, and sets up a fun adventure.

The Comic's first installment is on shaky ground.

Detracting from the decent premise, I laughed out loud at a key moment that was too contrived to be dramatic. Some obscured spoilers here, but consider this: What would you do if you have a beloved mentor marooned on an island, tied to a post, and you were able to sneak to them on a boat with a knife?
(a) simply cut the rope and rescue the mentor?
(b) mercy kill them in an instant?

We are treated to the latter choice, which is inconsistent with the character relationship and the art (which shows the knife, boat, and rope together on the same page; the mentor did not appear near death).

Belit is then held captive and rescued fortuitously; then fate brings her a rare sea-creature at a random, but opportune time--merely to serve as a shallow cliff hanger. I anticipated that she would have freed herself (with less help from others), and given how scarce sea-creatures are, the encounter made me roll my eyes.

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